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- As Hurricane Ida barreled toward the Gulf Coast, some residents chose to 'stay and pray'
- Six hours changed Hurricane Ida's speed and power — and New Orleans' preparation
- How Ida compares to Hurricane Katrina as storm makes landfall on the anniversary
- 'Very, very bad': Images show damage, flooding from Hurricane Ida
Hurricane Ida hit Port Fourchon with wind gusts up to 172 mph
Hurricane Ida made landfall Sunday morning on Port Fourchon, Louisiana, as a powerful Category 4 storm with winds of 150 mph — making it one of the fifth strongest landfalls in U.S. history.
The hurricane's wind gusts were even stronger at 172 mph in Port Fourchon. Other areas were also hit with intense wind gusts. Grand Isle saw gusts of 146 mph while Dulac experienced 138 mph gusts. Galliano was hit with 122 mph gusts and New Orleans with 87 mph.
Ida's strength tied it as the fifth strongest landfall in the country's history. It is also one of the strongest hurricanes to hit Louisiana, behind 2020's Hurricane Laura and the Last Island Hurricane of 1856.
Louisiana also became the first state to endure hurricanes with winds of at least 150 mph in back-to-back years. Hurricane Laura was a Category 4 with wind speeds of 150 mph when it struck the state last year.
After battering Louisiana, Ida moved on toward Mississippi. The National Hurricane Center said Ida, now a tropical storm with sustained winds of 45 mph, is located about 65 miles southwest of Jackson, according to its 8 a.m. Monday update.
The storm is expected to make a faster northeastward motion tonight and into Tuesday. Ida is expected to move over central and northeastern Mississippi Monday afternoon and evening before it moves across the Tennessee Valley on Tuesday. By Wednesday, it will move through the Appalachians, Mid-Atlantic region and the Northeast.
Flash flooding is expected in the coming days, according to forecasters. More than 50 million people are currently under a flash flood watch stretching from the Gulf Coast up to northern New Jersey.
FEMA administrator: 'This is going to be a really long recovery'
Ida caused widespread damage, more than federal officials anticipated, and it will take a significant amount of time to recover, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Monday.
"Not only was this a Category 4 storm, but it stayed a Category 4 storm for hours over southern parts of Louisiana," FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" a day after Ida, now a tropical storm, slammed into the state.
She said her teams on the ground were reporting structural damage and possibly building collapses in various areas.
"Having those high winds for several hours, that storm surge for several hours, as well as the intense rainfall, and I think as we get up this morning, we're hearing reports, but we're going to see even more destruction," she added. "This is going to be a really long recovery."
She said that "there have also been some reports of people calling 911 for assistance getting out of their threatened area."
"It's going to be significant, and these are only the initial reports," Criswell said. "We're going to see more as soon as we get the assessment teams out there this morning."
'Please remain where you are,' Louisiana governor warns
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards urged people to be aware of the many hazards left across the state in Hurricane Ida's wake as daylight started to reveal the scale of destruction, including flooded roadways, debris and downed power lines.
"Follow the instructions of local officials & continue to be safe," he cautioned.
911 knocked out in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish
The 911 systems in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish were not working properly Monday morning, officials said.
Orleans Parish Communication District-OPCD announced at about 3 a.m. that 911 was "experiencing technical difficulties." Residents were told to "go to your nearest fire station or approach your nearest officer" in the event of an emergency.
In Jefferson Parish, which was also "currently having difficulties routing calls to 911," residents were told to stay put since 'unnecessary travel is dangerous given the current roadway conditions," according to the sheriff's office. People who need police were told to call 504-227-1400.
Jefferson Parish president: 'We have almost 200-250 requests for rescue'
President of Louisiana's Jefferson Parish, which was battered by Hurricane Ida, says rescue teams are out attending to as many as 250 rescue calls.
"They have been really all night anxious to get out when there is first light," Cynthia Lee Sheng told the "TODAY" show.
“I know it's been a very, very long night for those people," she said.
Watch the rest of the interview here:
Parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Florida under tornado watches
The National Weather Service warned Monday that people in southeast Mississippi, southwest Alabama, and the western Florida Panhandle could expect tornados.
Ida, which had weakened to a tropical storm, was moving over southeastern Louisiana Monday. The storm was forecast to turn toward southwestern Mississippi later in the morning, and then predicted to move through central and northeastern Mississippi later in the day, before hitting the Tennessee Valley on Tuesday.
Flash flood emergency warning continues for Hammond, Ponchatoula and Natalbany
The National Weather Service has continued a flash flood emergency for Hammond, Ponchatoula and Natalbany communities, north of New Orleans, in Louisiana until at least 10 a.m. E.T.
The service warned of a "life-threatening situation" and urged residents to move to higher ground immediately.
Lafitte-area levees overtopped, not damaged, local official says
The levees in the area of Lafitte, 20 miles south of New Orleans, did not breach as Hurricane Ida hit overnight despite earlier reports, the Jefferson Parish president said.
Cynthia Lee Sheng told the "TODAY" show Monday the levees were overtopped, but did not fail. It was earlier reported by the National Weather Service that the levees in the area may have breached, putting over 200 people in "imminent danger.”
"There was no structural failure of the levees, it's just that the water was higher than the levee that was built," Sheng said.
Levee failure in Alliance, Louisiana prompts evacuations
Residents have been urged to evacuate after a levee failure in Alliance, about 20 miles southeast of New Orleans.
Plaquemines Parish government urged people to evacuate the area immediately in a Facebook post late Sunday. Residents were told to go to a local auditorium if they need shelter.
Around the same time, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency warning for the area, warning of a "life-threatening flash flooding from a levee failure."